Volunteers are being sought to join a major campaign to reduce suicides ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day this weekend (Saturday 10 September).
Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership wants people to sign up to the Orange Button scheme, which provides training to people who can signpost others to support services if they are having thoughts of suicide.
Launched in 2020, the scheme has recruited nearly 2,000 volunteers who are already offering support to friends, family, work colleagues and other people in their communities.
Orange Button-holders are identified by a small orange pin badge or an orange sticker for businesses who have trained people within their organisation.
Helen Parry, Clinical Network Manager, said: “Since it launched two years ago, the Orange Button scheme has gone from strength-to-strength. We know our holders are making a difference and we’re encouraging as many people as possible to join them.
“While our holders are not able to counsel people, they can provide comprehensive signposting to relevant services and are empowered to intervene when someone may be having suicidal thoughts.”
The fully funded training can be done virtually or face-to-face, and generally takes half a day. Upon completion, newly-trained Orange Button-holders receive information to make themselves identifiable and support people who need it.
It is not a substitute for counselling, mental health support or a mental health crisis service.
Michelle Lemm is already trained as an Orange Button-holder and has first-hand experience of the difference it can make.
Michelle, who works as a Wellbeing and Organisational Development Manager at the University of Cumbria, said: “After doing my training, I found myself helping someone who was extremely distressed and contemplating suicide.
“That person knew they could talk to me and ended up going onto a programme which really helped them, and they have since contacted me to say I saved their life.
“It gives me a real sense of pride to know even if I just help one person, I did something really good there.
“To anyone who is thinking of completing the training, I would say go for it. It gave me a new confidence to be able to have those conversations and genuinely could make the world of difference to someone.”
More information on how to become an Orange Button-holder, including a full list of training details, can be found on the dedicated webpage: www.healthierlsc.co.uk/OrangeButtonScheme